Members of the local Sikh community are asking the city to consider adding a stop for Airdrie Transit’s route 900 bus at the Dashmesh Culture Centre, located in the northeast Calgary community of Martindale.
During the Aug. 21 city council meeting, a member of the Sikh community and Airdrie resident Shivpal Singh Sidhu led a delegation to outline proposed changes to route 900, in which an additional bus stop would be implemented every Sunday.
His presentation proposed the route could start at WB Gateway Drive with times running at 9:15 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m., and 2:15 p.m. According to Sidhu, this would add an additional 11 minutes and 4.7 kilometres to the pre-existing route, which already transports Airdrie residents to and from northeast Calgary’s Rundle LRT station.
Sidu noted the Sikh community lacks its own temple within Airdrie. He added the Sikh community has grown exponentially over the years and a large number of Sikh people have expressed support for the proposed route change via a petition the Sikh Community Association started.
“In the last two years we have grown to over 400 families that we know of,” he said. “We were able to get signatures from a lot of these families in a two-weeks time period when I first got the indication that we would be coming to present here. There were over 300 individuals who were ready to sign that petition for us.”
Temples play a significant role within the Sikh community, according to Sidhu, who said they are not only used for prayers but also a place of community service.
Sidhu added the temple goes beyond religion, emphasizing its cultural importance as a place where children learn, and elders share their wisdom of the deep-rooted culture of Sikh beliefs.
Following the delegation, Coun. Heather Spearman raised questions about the future growth of the Sikh community in Airdrie, and their need for a more local facility. She said she would rather see a temple built within the city rather than having to spend money to extend Airdrie Transit service between Calgary and Airdrie.
“I always hate sending everybody to Calgary and now we have we’re thinking about spending money on transit to get them there,” she said. “That’s doubly worse. I want you to come here – bring it here.”
Sidhu noted his association has investigated the potential of building a temple within Airdrie city limits, but highlighted the construction period would likely last from seven to nine years.
During the Monday meeting, Coun. Ron Chapman asked Sidhu if the Sikh community provided car-pooling, or other means of transportation, to assist others with rides to the Dashmesh Culture Centre.
Sidhu noted they have received quotes from service providers; however, they were unable to afford the associated costs, being a non-profit organization. He confirmed that families do sometimes commute together to attend the temple.
Coun. Candice Kolson brought up concerns regarding other passengers who use the route 900 bus, noting that taxpayers would be on the hook for the proposed changes.
“We are asking our tax base to supplement for a dozen people to go straight to your cultural centre when we have other tax users who also want to use an on-time system,” she said.
Ultimately, council accepted the information to be reviewed and have deferred any decisions until early 2024.